Consumer Digital Warfare

Why does this make me happy?

Screenshot 2014-09-18 09.08.43

It means I won a digital battle. We hear quite a bit about hacking and digital battles in the corporate and nation-state worlds, and maybe we are aware of personal data getting stolen. But what I’m seeing more and more of is the use of websites and mobile apps for auctioning off commodities.

Our first major brush with this concept was when we bought our first house in Redwood City through an online auction. It was relatively unheard of at the time, and the practice does not seem to have caught on.

Now it seems that, at least in Nashville, restaurant capacity is a commodity in high demand. The Bluebird Cafe is notoriously difficult to get a reservation. They start offering reservations for their following weekend shows at 8:00am Monday morning. I have a repeating event in my calendar to remind me. I would often just sit at my computer at 7:58 clicking on the button repeatedly until the website let me in. I won this battle many times for ourselves and out-of-town guests. Now they’ve changed it so that you get a randomly assigned place in line. It sucks because there is no guarantee.

Southwest Airlines is another example of digital timing battles, as anybody who wants a good boarding number knows to check in right at 24 hrs before the flight. Now they offer an “upgrade” so you can pay for the privilege instead of planning your life around a departure time. I can’t compete with money.

Back to the Catbird Seat. This is the most trendiest restaurant in town and has been since it opened around a year ago. Their policy is that you can start making reservations 30 days in advance. Unfortunately, since this is based on day instead of hour, you have to be up at midnight to grab a reservation. That is what I did last night. I set my alarm for 11:58pm, grabbed my iPad that was by my bed, and hit the reservation system right at midnight. The only thing left at 12:00:10 was two slots, one at 5:30 and one at 6:00. This means that in ten seconds, approximately 60 reservations were made for October 18th. That is a lot of people up at midnight clicking on buttons. Digital warfare. But I won.

My wife, blurry eyed, wondered what the heck I was doing. I didn’t respond until I could tell her that I won the war and that we’re all set for our 8th anniversary celebration. She better appreciate her digital warrior….

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